Heavy breathing and foul language – but a great success

Sydney Spencer faces his last day at the YMCA camp, and looks back over his experiences.

Thursday Sept 24th
[Opposite a page setting out the Morse code]
The following is the Morse Code written in this book for me by one of the privates here. He lent over our impromptu letter box & wrote it earnestly with much heavy breathings. I want to learn this code if at all possible…

Tomorrow I leave the camp. Am I sorry? Yes, I must own that I have quite a number of regrets in leaving Harwich. The last two or three days have been such a pleasure & I have so warmed to the work that I shall distinctly leave behind many pleasant memories, & but very few unhappy ones. With the exception of one man’s foul language to myself, for which I just straightly attacked him, I have had not one unpleasant passage of arms with the men. Our concert last evening was really a huge success. The place after a most strenuous two hours preparing looked – use a university modernism – “top hole”. I had a very busy time of it preparing, & when it was done – the platform made, the counter covered up, and candles placed in saucers on a form for footlights, then I really felt that we were well rewarded for our labours. The items on the programme were all or nearly all quite successful, & Private Macgregor who sang Father O’Flinn and Long Live The King, & other songs, really was the best item of the evening for his healthy figure & his splendid voice, & his splendid taste in singing made him for me the best of the bunch. He took a real joy in his singing & made the whole air tingle with the splendid swing of his singing. Today has been a rather hard day for me, as Hayes has been out most of the day to get a rest from yesterday’s concert. Tonight he has gone out with the “light” signallers, with Lieutenant Chadington who was last night at our concert, & also sang. He sang very well indeed – rag times – and delighted the men. Daldry was very cut up because we had the counter closed up. I should think that the concert would have been lowered 80 or 90 per cent at least.

Sydney Spencer’s diary, 1914 (D/EX801/12)

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